Refugee Week: imagine being a young refugee in a new country

A member of our  Youth Led Commission for Separated Children (YLCSC) reflects on the struggles of being a young refugee coming to the UK and the importance of having a legal guardian.

Imagine for a child

young people looking out window

Imagine that a child or young person has escaped from somewhere dangerous, that they had to do it by themselves. Imagine their hopes of a safer and better life and future are crushed. Imagine them undergoing exploitation, domestic violence, not being listened to, being unaccepted and experiencing loneliness.

Imagine them struggling mentally and when they try to explain what they have been through they are not believed. Imagine someone questions your feelings?

Imagine that they arrive in this new place expecting to feel safe, but they don’t. Imagine that no one believes them when they tell them what happened to them.

A welcome place

You don’t have to imagine all of this – this already happens.

Instead, let’s imagine that all of this could be different. Let’s imagine a place where children have the right to be children, a place where they are protected. That when children arrive here, they would be welcomed, that someone would meet them and tell them that it would be ok, that they would help them. This person would be there for them, they could trust them and talk to them about their feelings. They wouldn’t make them feel like a burden. They would explain things for them when they didn’t understand, until they did. They would prepare them for things that may be difficult and confusing and that by doing that it would make these things less difficult and less confusing.

Would you be surprised if we told you a place like this exists? And that it’s not actually that far away? We know it is real because we went there and discovered it for ourselves.

Someone to help

We’re the Youth-Led Commission on Separated Children (YLCSC). We are a group of young experts by experience. We believe all unaccompanied and separated children arriving in England and Wales deserve to have a guardian who will speak up for them, ensure their needs are considered by decision makers and help them access support.

A scheme like this already exists in Scotland, so earlier this year we went to Glasgow to find out how it works. We met with guardians, young people and a solicitor and we found out about the positive impact it has. We created a documentary of our trip and we are campaigning for legal guardians to be provided to all unaccompanied and separated children and young people.